The 5 Languages of Recognition


February 14, 2023

Taryn Hart

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5 min

In this article, we explore the 5 languages of appreciation, how they connect to employee recognition, and what this might look like in the workplace.

employee appreciation, recognition, engagement, company culture

Table of Contents

You may have heard about The 5 Languages of Love® – a framework created by Gary Chapman for how people prefer to give and receive love. Using this same framework, Gary Chapman teamed up with Dr. Paul White, to discuss how to apply this to appreciation in the workplace.  

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace says, “when authentic appreciation is communicated, all stakeholders win—the employee, the supervisor, the organization, customers and clients, as well as the family and friends of the employee who get to enjoy a more positive, encouraged individual.”  

In this article, we explore the 5 languages of appreciation, how they connect to employee recognition, and what this might look like in the workplace.  

1. Words of Affirmation

Words of affirmation are when you communicate your appreciation to someone through words. In the workplace, this could be something as simple as a “great job!” or “I really appreciated your help on that project.” Ensuring recognition is timely, personal, and meaningful is what will have the most impact on your employees.  

Kudos makes sending meaningful recognition to your employees easy and simple. Recognition sent in Kudos creates deeper connections, where your employees can share experiences and celebrate each other’s achievements, all in one place.  

Our free culture guide, Recognition Your Team Will Love, explains how to write meaningful recognition, with 20 examples for your team.  

2. Quality Time

Quality time means giving someone your complete and undivided attention. Making space for quality time in the workplace could look like; checking in with your employees often, scheduling one-on-one time, and listening to your employees.  

Quality time doesn’t always need to be work related – having small conversations about weekend plans, or favorite tv shows is important to build connections with your team. Younger generations especially want positive team dynamics, with leaders who care about their work and personal lives.  

3. Acts of Service

This one is about those small acts of kindness that can go a long way. Something as simple as taking meeting minutes for someone, stocking the paper tray in the printer, or taking on a task from someone if their plate is too full. These small, but significant moments demonstrate appreciation for someone by showing them you recognize how valuable their time is.  

Thanking and recognizing individuals for their acts of service can be done through sending recognition messages in Kudos, and can also be celebrated through a nominations program. You can create an award in Kudos for which your employees can nominate each other. Nomination programs can spotlight impactful moments happening in your organization every day that your broader team might not see.

4. Giving Tangible Gifts

While giving recognition should always be top of mind, some employees may feel even more appreciated with a gift. Employee rewards are an important aspect of workplace culture as they help to motivate, engage and retain employees. The days of free company swag, coffee mugs and notepads are over though. Demonstrating appreciation through gift giving should be unique and personalized.  

Rewards that cater to individual employees can demonstrate your company's commitment to their personal and professional growth. Kudos offers access to a world-class suite of rewards - merchandise, events, travel, charities, gift cards and even custom rewards can be redeemed through Kudos. Adding points and rewards to your recognition experience is a fantastic way to support engagement and augment total compensation.  

5. Human Connection

For remote employees, offering a place where everyone can gather in person, like a hybrid office or a company event is a great way for employees to express appreciation in person.

Some people may love hugs, and others may prefer a handshake – physical touch in the workplace should be limited to brief and professional forms of touch between close colleagues.  It is important to be aware of and respect the personal boundaries of your colleagues.  

It All Relates to Recognition

Employees need to know their contributions to your organization are valued. Without this recognition, we begin to feel our hard work has no purpose. And without purpose, we feel unappreciated, undervalued, and unmotivated.  

Just like the 5 Languages of Love®, your team members will prefer different methods of appreciation. Some people may need to be checked-in with often, and some may be fine with a one-on-one occasionally, and that’s perfectly okay. Using a tool like Kudos, where all the ways of appreciation can be expressed through recognition, will help your employees feel valued, be engaged and more motivated to do their best work.  

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About Kudos

Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

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